How do we immerse learners in ambiguity and equip them to navigate ambiguous contexts?
Recognizing ambiguity is the first step. We talk about ambiguity explicitly with our students using in-class discussions and tools like the Ambiguity Metaphor Exploration Worksheet and Ambiguity Journey Maps, that invite students to reflect on their relationships with ambiguity while they're in the midst of it.
We help students get more comfortable by cultivating their ambiguity endurance (as individuals and as teams) through repeated exposure to ambiguous, open-ended, real-world challenges. We give them multiple design projects, and successively longer and more complex ones.
Because there are an infinite number of ways to move through ambiguity, we guide our students to be more self-aware of their work and their process — to get more comfortable with adapting. We emphasize that there isn't one right approach, but rather many different approaches and tools to use. We ask them to reflect on their work and we provide resources to help modulate how they're working and how to adjust their processes as needed. Check out Team Dashboards and DPA: Design Project Abilities.
We teach our students different processes and methods, and explore the underlying design abilities including these 7 other core design abilities.
These are just a few of the key ways we help students navigate ambiguity from a high-level perspective. You'll find many more specific tools and examples in the Library of Ambiguity.
Scott Doorley, d.school Creative Director and Sarah Stein Greenberg, d.school Executive Director, talk about our teaching methods.